Climbing 2,000 feet to a watchtower overlook of Blue Ridge, Pisgah, and Black Mountain peaks, this 5.6-mile out-and-back to Green Knob offers dayhikers all the views of its mammoth northwest neighbor, Mount Mitchell, without the crowds. Beginning from a forest service road trailhead off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the signed trail to Green Knob begins with a stiff ascent to the spine of Lost Cove Ridge. Tracing the ridge, the trail continues on an undulating climb through a diverse forest mix of hemlock, chestnut oak peppered with mountain laurel, rhododendron, and magnolia.
Roughly 2 miles in, the approach to the Green Knob summit becomes more exposed, revealing intermittent views of the Black Mountain Range and Pisgah National Forest. The hike’s highlight, though, is the Green Knob observation tower. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1932 (restored in 1996), the tower offers uninterrupted views of the Black Mountain range and Mount Mitchell State Park to the northwest, views of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the northeast, and views across the surrounding Pisgah National Forest. Soak it all in before backtracking to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Tim Johnson